Silent lung damage seen in all patients of COVID-19 with no symptoms of the disease!!!

The new deadly coronavirus is affecting people but variably. There are a number of ill-understood facts about the virus. While it can cause no symptoms in some, it might lead to death in another person of same demographic features! The virus continues to challenge the medical fraternity. An additional point which has come out in the front is that even though a person may have no obvious symptoms, he or she may still have some underlying lung damage due to the virus, a new research from Wuhan has revealed.

Lung damage and coronavirus

Researchers at the Chinese University of Wuhan did high-resolution CT scans on 58 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms. They used fluorescence reverse-transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (fRT-PCR) assays to diagnose the cases. They found that all of them showed evidence of pneumonia on CTscans.

Asymptomatic patient of COBID-19 has underlying lung damage [Source: Medpage Today]
Twenty-seven of these patients went on to develop symptoms after an average of 3.7 days after their laboratory diagnosis. These symptoms were fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigueness, and diarrhoea. But the evidence of lung damage was in all the cases irrespective of whether they had symptoms or did not have them.

CTscan findings in asymptomatic patients

Around 58% of these patients had unilateral lung involvement on CTscans; either in the left lung or the right lung. Whereas, less than half had both lung damage. The scientists put up their study in The Journal of Infection. They wrote:

“Lesions were fused to form patchy, crazy-paving signs, or diffusion pattern, distributed in multiple lung lobes or bilateral, and a few patients showed consolidation in CT imaging,”

Lung changes-temporary or permanent in asymptomatic COVID-19 patients [Source: NPR]
This implies that though some patients who test positive and have no symptoms may in fact be having some silent lung damage inside. The pandemic is one jigsaw puzzle which doctors are finding it difficult to solve. And this new findings only adds to the already confused picture.

More about this complicated infection

There is another matter of concern here. Studies have shown that 30-60% of COVID-19 pneumonia is in patients with no or mild symptoms. And the ability of these cases to spread the virus is as high as the symptomatic cases.

Additionally, world-wide PCR tests to diagnose coronavirus cases have a documented false-negative rates of around 20%. This means that 1 in 5 people tested are wrongly told that they do not have the infection. In fact, they have it and would be spreading the virus around. The authors wrote further:

“In summary, CT images of asymptomatic cases with COVID-19 pneumonia have definite characteristics. Since the asymptomatic patients with COVID-19 is called “covert transmitter”, covert SARS-CoV-2 infections could be seeding new outbreaks, and some patients can progress rapidly in the short term,”

Lung damage in asymptomatic COVID-19 patients [Source: ABC]
And they concluded:

“Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to the surveillance of asymptomatic patients with COVID-19. CT examination plays a vital role in managing the current COVID-19 outbreak, for early detection of COVID-19 pneumonia, especially in the highly suspicious, asymptomatic cases with negative SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid testing,”

Also, read Sweden: The no-lockdown policy of Anders Tegnell might turn out to be the smartest approach towards COVID-19!